December 2, 2019 | by: Scott Denny | 0 comments
In the summer of 2018, the elders determined that as our church demographic became increasingly younger it was essential that we make a concerted effort to learn and understand how we might best disciple the next generation, and in doing so how this effort might best connect to the totality of the whole church body.
Tony Sanelli’s article in May 2019 provided the church with the vision the elders have for intergenerational discipleship as it connects to not only discipling this younger generation but also coming alongside them to provide them with the resources that will help them disciple their children.
Since Tony’s article in May, we’ve been systematically evaluating ministries and prayerfully considering how changes in our discipleship philosophy provides us with opportunities to forge a new path that places intergenerational discipleship into Grace Bible Church’s DNA.
As we look to come alongside parents, our hope is that “assisting parents in the discipleship of their children will also have a strengthening effect upon the health of the entire church family.” (Generational Discipleship, May 2019 Gracelife – If you’d like a refresher on this topic, you can read Tony’s complete article on our website)
So that’s where we’ve been; here’s where we’re going: Since the spring of this year, a team of people have been reviewing and recommending changes to the children’s education and youth group ministries. We began with these two ministries because of the immediate impact they have on families with children.
This fall, the elders agreed to implement many of the suggestions the team made for Children’s Education. Some of those changes are easily recognizable to the whole congregation, as we’ve adjusted the bulletin so that we can make the children’s lessons and memory verses easily accessible to not only their parents but to any within the congregation who may want to follow along as a means of encouragement to the children and their parents.
In addition, some of the changes adopted by the elders stress a focus on intergenerational discipleship. For example, in the near future, we’ll be implementing “Adopt-a-Class” which encourages our members from all stages of life whether you’re a grandparent, a single man or woman or an older teenager to adopt one of our Children’s Education classrooms.
The people who adopt a classroom will be asked to make an annual commitment to pray for the kids and their parents regularly and stop by to visit the class on occasion. The person who adopts a class will have their picture on the wall of that classroom as well, so the kids and parents are aware of who is investing their time to pray for and know these families. Lord willing, organic and natural discipleship relationships blossom from this kind of opportunity that lead to the older man or woman to disciple the younger man or woman.
The Family Discipleship Team that Tony referenced in his article recently completed its evaluation of The Youth Group and submitted its suggestions to the elders for their approval. Please pray for the elders as we seek to understand how to best implement the recommendations of the Team. We’ll keep you all informed as those changes come about.
Another opportunity that we decided to explore this fall involved the direct discipling and mentoring of parents with young children. A group of young couples completed DTP last summer and they were all asking for “what’s next?” So, inspired by their enthusiasm the elders decided to do a pilot workshop that met every Thursday night with a focus on marriage and parenting.
My wife and I, along with Tom and Victoria Kruggel, served as instructors, mentors, disciplers to a group of about 10 couples who completed DTP last spring. We covered a variety of topics within marriage and parenting in a variety of formats in order to determine if something like what we were doing every Thursday night could ‘work’ on a larger scale for this demographic.
Much to the elders’ delight and surprise, this pilot proved successful and the desire from each couple for this kind of discipleship was clear by their regular attendance.
Please pray for the elders that we might understand what moving forward will look like as we seek the best context and format to disciple this increasingly growing demographic.
At the end of the day, we recognize that no change in this church’s DNA is possible apart from the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in the hearts of God’s people. We can facilitate as many opportunities as our schedules allow and provide as many resources as our budget allows, but unless the Lord changes and transforms the hearts and minds of God’s people to see the value of investing our time into our children and each other then nothing will change.
Please pray for the Holy Spirit to have His effectual work in each of us that we might be a people who are jealous for the Lord’s call to make disciples who make disciples. Let us do that not only in our homes but within the church as a whole.
Scott Denny is a Pastor at Grace Bible Church